Understanding Employment Norms in Belgium: A Comprehensive Guide
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Hiring in Belgium? Read on to find out the employment norms (like taxes, payroll and benefits) and EOR (Employer on Record) norms in Belgium.

Employment Norms in Belgium

Belgium has a highly regulated labor market with specific laws and norms that employers must adhere to when hiring employees. Understanding these employment norms is crucial for businesses looking to operate in Belgium.

General Information:

  • The Belgian currency is Euro (EUR).
  • Brussels is the capital of Belgium.
  • Dutch, French, and German are the official languages of Belgium. Documentation for official purposes can be in Dutch, French, and German.
  • As of 2021, the GDP of Belgium was reported to be 594.1 Billion USD.
Belgium has comprehensive labor laws covering the minimum wage, working hours, leave entitlements, and discrimination protections.
Belgium map

Table of Contents

  • Agreements
  • Onboarding Process
  • Visa
  • Minimum Wage
  • Payroll Cycle
  • Annual Bonus
  • Health Benefits
  • Working Hours and Overtime
  • Leaves
  • Social Security
  • Taxes for Employers
  • Taxes for Employees
  • Probation
  • Termination
  • Severance Pay
  • Employees or Contractors
  • Final Words


  • Depending on the employee's place of employment or the registered office of the business firm, the employment contract must be in either Dutch, French, or German.
  • All parties must be aware of the conditions, liabilities, and obligations before signing any contract in Belgium for it to be legally binding.
  • Agreements and contracts can be in Dutch, French, and German languages.
  • An agreement in Belgium must generally include the following details:
    • Type of contract
    • Identity proof of the parties
    • Description of the objectives of each party
    • Nature of the obligations and the circumstances under which they may be suspended
    • Payment and taxes (if applicable)
    • Duration and termination
    • Liability, force majeure
Onboarding Process

Onboarding Process

  • The employee onboarding process typically involves the following steps:
    • An offer letter and employment contract
    • Verification and documentation
    • Orientation and training
    • Introduction to team and stakeholderso Introduction to team and stakeholders
    • Provision of tools and resources
    • Performance management and feedback
    • Ongoing support


Belgium has two types of visas:
  • Belgium Short-Stay Visas
    • Belgian Schengen Visa for tourists and visitors- The Schengen visa is comparable to the Belgian tourist visa. You can only visit the country for a total of 90 days.
    • Belgium Transit Visa - A transit visa is given to travelers who only need to enter the Schengen area to switch modes of transportation.
  • Belgium Long-Stay Visas (D-Visa)
    Those who want to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days must apply for a long-stay visa, depending on their reason for visiting (visa D).
    • Belgium Student Visa: This usually has a six-month validity period, although it can be extended up until the completion of your program.
    • Belgium Work Visa: This type of visa typically needs sponsorship from a Belgian employer, while there are certain exceptions to the rule.
    • Belgium Dependent Visa: If you have family members living in Belgium, usually a partner, and want to join them, you may be granted this visa, often known as a family reunion visa. Often, dependent visas are issued for the same time frame as the primary visa.

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Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage in Belgium is 1,954.99 EUR per month in 2023. It became effective on December 1, 2022.
Payroll Cycle

Payroll Cycle

Salary payments typically occur at the end of each month, according to the payroll cycle that is established at that time.
Annual Bonus

Annual Bonus

Most businesses give employees a bonus equal to the 13th month's wage just before Christmas.
Health Benefits

Health Benefits

  • Expats working in Belgium who are appropriately registered will have access to the country's excellent healthcare system.
  • Official reimbursement rates for medical and hospital care are established via a contract between doctors, hospitals, clinics, and the government's health authority.
Working Hours and Overtime

Working Hours and Overtime

  • Work hours: Standard working hours in Belgium are 38 hours per week.
  • Break:• Break: The employee must be given a break if the work is over six hours. A collective agreement reached at a sectoral or corporate level specifies the length and terms of break grants. If there is no collective bargaining agreement, the employee must be given a quarter-hour break no later than when the work exceeds six hours.
  • Overtime: Any hours worked more than the required 38 per week are considered overtime. They must be compensated at 150% of the standard rate. On weekends and public holidays, overtime is compensated at a rate that is 200% of their standard hourly rates.


Sick Leave

  • Workers are entitled to their full employer-paid income for the first 30 days of sick leave. Employees typically qualify for government sickness benefits after 30 days. Every sick leave must have a doctor's note certifying it.

Parental leaves

  • Maternal Leave- There are 15 weeks of maternity leave. The mother can take up to six weeks of leave before the projected due date, with a minimum of one week mandatory. The woman must take a 9-week break from the child's birth date. A woman would be entitled to an additional two weeks of maternity leave if she had twins or multiple births.
  • Paternal Leave- 15 days are allotted for paternity leave, which may be used at once or in segments.

Annual leaves

  • According to their work schedule, workers are entitled to 20 - 24 days of leave annually. The calculation for part-time workers will be prorated.

Public Holidays (for the Calendar year 2023)

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • April 10 - Easter Monday
  • May 1 - Labour Day
  • May 18 - Ascension Day
  • May 29 - Whit Monday
  • July 21 - National Day
  • August 15 - Assumption Day
  • November 1 - All Saints' Day
  • November 11 - Armistice Day
  • December 25 - Christmas Day

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Social Security

Social Security

  • Employees must contribute 13.07% of their gross pay towards social security taxes.
  • Depending on when the employee was hired, the employer's expense ranges from 25 to 27%.
Taxes for Employers

Taxes for Employers

  • 25 - 27% - Social security
  • 9% - Pension fund

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Taxes for Employees

Taxes for Employees

(Income Group - Tax)
  • 0 To 13,870 - 25%
  • 13,870 To 24,480 - 40%
  • 24,480 To 42,370 - 45%
  • Above 42,370 - 50%


  • There is no probationary period in Belgium. Probation has no legal weight and cannot be incorporated into a contract for employment.
  • At the beginning of the employment contract, the regular procedures for termination should be followed.
  • The employee does not have the right to request an explanation of the reason for the dismissal if it happens less than six months after the employment contract began.
  • They won't be qualified for an outplacement offer either. The employer, the employee, or both parties may terminate the employment agreement mutually. In either scenario, the employee is entitled to notice and indemnity, while the employer is entitled to a notice period.

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Employees' employment can be terminated by their employers if they have good reason to do so. They include:
  • Possessing the skills or qualities necessary to perform the type of work for which they were employed
  • Employee conduct
  • Employee Retirement
  • Employee layoffs
  • Employee's inability to fulfill their job obligations without breaching the law or being subject to another restriction
  • Employer requirements are changing.
  • Other significant grounds for dismissal
Terminations are only regarded as legal when they're motivated by issues with employee competency or a business necessity to keep a person on staff.
Severance Pay

Severance Pay

  • Severance pay is determined by the duration of the notice period that should have been observed in the event of dismissal without a notice period.
  • For instance, it should be the equivalent of three months' salary if the notice period is three months.
Employees or Contractors

Employees or Contractors

  • Full-time workers are preferred over independent contractors in Belgium. Such employees are completely favored by Belgian employment legislation, and the expense of firing a full-time employee is high.
  • Depending on the employee's degree of seniority and length of service to the company, the severance package may involve paying wages for several months when an employee is let go.
  • Typically, skilled and experienced workers are temporarily replaced by contracted workers. Contractors give the business flexibility in personnel and make payroll processing easier.
  • Many people are converting to contract-based work to lower their tax burden due to the high tax rates levied on full-time employees. However, misclassifying an employee as a contractor or vice-versa may attract a hefty penalty.
  • There are more chances for contractors in Belgium, thanks to the rigorous employment rules.
Final Words

Final Words

Overall, Belgium has a highly regulated labor market with comprehensive employment norms and regulations that employers must follow. While this can create challenges for businesses looking to expand into the country, working with an Employer of Record (EOR) can help simplify hiring and ensure compliance with local labor laws. Despite these challenges, Belgium offers numerous business opportunities, including a highly skilled workforce and a strategic location in the heart of Europe.

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